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Understanding Delaware’s Child Support: Calculation Modification and Consequences

Child Support Calculation and Modification in Delaware

When couples go through a divorce or separation, one of the most important issues that need to be addressed is child support. Child support is the amount paid by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent to support their child’s upbringing and well-being.

In Delaware, child support is determined by a set of guidelines known as the Melson formula, which considers the income and expenses of both parents. In this article, we will look at the Melson formula and other considerations for calculating child support in Delaware, as well as the conditions and procedures for modifying child support.

Child Support Calculation in Delaware

The Melson formula is the most commonly used method for calculating child support in Delaware. It is based on the Income Shares Model, which takes into account both parents’ combined income and the number of children they have.

Under the Melson formula, the non-custodial parent pays a percentage of their income in child support, with adjustments made for other expenses, such as support for other children or private school expenses. To calculate the monthly child support figure, the following factors are considered:


The number of children involved in the case. 2.

The combined gross monthly income of both parents. 3.

The number of dependents whom each parent has, including the child or children involved in the support order. 4.

The cost of daycare, health insurance, and other child-related expenses. 5.

The number of annual overnights each parent has with the child. The Melson formula aims to maintain the best interest of the child by ensuring that both parents contribute fairly to their child’s upbringing.

It takes into account the actual earnings and incomes of both parents to ensure that the child’s needs are met without placing an undue burden on either parent. However, the Melson formula is not a one-size-fits-all solution and can be adjusted based on other factors, such as the earning capacity of each parent, the cost of extracurricular activities, and other special needs of the child.

Child Support Considerations in Delaware

Aside from the Melson formula, there are other considerations that go into calculating child support in Delaware. For instance, the incomes of both parents may be subject to minimum income standards.

If the custodial parent has no income or their income is lower than the minimum standard, a minimum order may be made, and the non-custodial parent may be required to pay the difference. Another consideration is the sharing of additional income.

This means that if the non-custodial parent’s income exceeds the combined income used for calculating child support, they will be required to contribute more towards the support of their child. Support for other children is also taken into account when calculating child support in Delaware.

If either parent has other children, the amount of child support they pay or receive will be adjusted downward based on the number and needs of the other children. Finally, the cost of private school expenses is also considered when calculating child support in Delaware.

It includes not just tuition but also other expenses related to private education, such as uniforms, transportation, and textbooks.

Child Support Modification in Delaware

Sometimes, after a child support order has been issued, circumstances change. In such cases, either parent can request a modification of the child support order.

To modify child support, the following conditions must be met:

1. At least 2.5 years have passed since the child support order was issued or last modified.

2. A substantial change in circumstances has occurred, such as a change in income or the number of children involved.

3. The modification is in the best interest of the child.

If both parties agree to the modification, they can resolve the issue through mediation. However, if they cannot come to an agreement, a court hearing will be scheduled to determine the appropriate modification.

Consequences of Not Paying Child Support

In Delaware, there are serious consequences for not paying child support. These include garnishment orders, license suspension, tax refund interception, credit bureau reporting, lottery winnings seizure, private collection agencies, and the withholding of unemployment compensation.

Non-custodial parents who fail to pay child support can face legal action and may even be subject to imprisonment.


Child support is a crucial aspect of caring for children of divorced or separated parents. In Delaware, the Melson formula is used to determine the amount of child support paid by the non-custodial parent.

However, other factors are also considered when calculating child support, such as the incomes of both parents, expenses related to the child’s well-being, support for other children, and private school expenses. If circumstances change, either parent can request a modification of the child support order.

It is important to pay child support on time as there can be serious consequences for not doing so.

Shared Equal Placement Adjustment

Shared equal placement is a custody arrangement where both parents have an equal amount of parenting time with their child. The number of annual overnights in such a situation is split evenly between both parents.

Shared equal placement seeks to ensure that both parents spend as much time as possible with their child and that the child experiences a close relationship with both parents. The shared equal placement adjustment is made to child support calculations in Delaware when the child spends equal amounts of time with both parents.

Incidental expenses are not covered by monthly child support payments but are instead divided equally between the parents in a shared equal placement arrangement. The incidental expenses may include extracurricular activities, school supplies, and healthcare costs.

Exceptions for Income Calculation for Military and Incarcerated Parents

Delaware recognizes that military and incarcerated parents may have difficulty earning an income. Therefore, special exceptions are made in the calculation of child support payments for these individuals.

For military parents, income cost of living stipends and allowances for clothing are excluded from income calculations. This is because these allowances are nontaxable and cannot be used to pay child support.

For incarcerated parents, child support may be adjusted based on diminished earning capacity. This is especially true if the parent is sentenced to a term of incarceration exceeding one year.

In such cases, the court may consider the parent’s future earning potential to determine an appropriate child support amount.

Impact of Shared Equal Placement on Child Support

When a shared equal placement agreement is put in place, each parent is responsible for a portion of the child’s care and support. As such, monthly child support payments are adjusted accordingly.

However, parents should note that shared equal placement only applies when parents have equal parenting time with their child. When one parent spends more time with the child than the other, the shared equal placement adjustment does not apply.

Shared incidental expenses are the costs that both parents share when caring for the child. These expenses include things like school supplies, clothing, and extracurricular activities.

Shared incidental expenses are not covered by monthly child support payments but are instead split equally between both parents.

Consequences of Noncompliance with Child Support in Delaware

Failure to comply with child support orders can have serious consequences. In Delaware, the Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) can petition for arrears and collection actions against noncompliant parents.

The DCSS can also suspend driver’s licenses, professional licenses, and hunting/fishing licenses, and place liens on property. Additionally, noncompliant parents may face federal misdemeanor or felony charges, depending on the amount of unpaid child support.

If a parent owes more than $10,000 in child support, they may be charged with a federal felony.

The DCSS has several tools at its disposal to enforce child support orders.

They use the federal Parent Locator Service, Federal Financial Institution Data Match, and State Directory of Hires to locate noncompliant parents. They can also garnish wages or seize tax refunds to pay outstanding child support.

It is important to note that there is no statute of limitations on the accrual of child support arrears. Parents who owe child support will be required to pay the full amount of the arrears, including interest, even if it has been years since the support order was established.

Ultimately, a parent’s obligation to pay child support is a court-ordered judgment, and failure to comply with the court order can have serious consequences. It is important that parents prioritize their child support obligations to avoid legal consequences and to fulfill their parental responsibility.

Child Support Payment in Delaware

One of the most important aspects of child support is making timely and consistent payments. In Delaware, there are several ways to pay child support, each with its own benefits and limitations.

Parents are encouraged to choose a payment method that is convenient and reliable for them.

Ways to Pay Child Support

In Delaware, parents have several options for making child support payments. These include:


iPayonline – this is an online payment system that allows parents to pay child support electronically. It is secure, convenient, and easy to use.

2. Check or Money Order – parents can mail a check or money order to the Delaware Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) to make payments.

Be sure to include the child support case number and the names of the parents and child on the memo line. 3.

Touch Pay Kiosks – there are touch pay kiosks available in several locations in Delaware where parents can make child support payments using cash or credit cards. 4.

Direct Deposit – parents can set up direct deposit through the DCSS website or by contacting their local child support office. 5.

US Bank ReliaCard – parents can use a pre-paid debit card to make child support payments. The ReliaCard can be used anywhere that accepts VISA.

6. Garnishment – in cases where parents are not making their child support payments voluntarily, the DCSS can garnish their wages to ensure that payments are made.

Assistance for Inability to Pay During the Pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused financial strain on many families. For parents who are unable to meet their child support obligations, there are avenues for assistance.

If a parent is unable to make their court-ordered child support payment due to the pandemic, they should contact the courts or the DCSS to request a modification of their child support order. Parents are encouraged to work together to establish a temporary reduction in the monthly child support obligation until they can return to their normal work schedule or income level.

It is important to continue to communicate with the other parent and the courts to come to an agreement on temporary child support payments.

End of Child Support Payments

Child support payments typically end when the child reaches the age of 18 or graduates from high school, whichever comes later. However, there are exceptions to this rule.

If the child is disabled, child support payments may continue indefinitely. Additionally, if the child is emancipated and earning an income, the support obligation may end before the age of 18.

Emancipation of Minor Laws

Emancipation is a legal process that allows a minor to become independent of their parents or legal guardians. In Delaware, minors can petition for emancipation if they can demonstrate that they are capable of living independently and supporting themselves.

The court will review the petition and make a decision based on a case by case basis. To be considered for emancipation, a minor must demonstrate independence.

This may include proving that they have a source of income, ability to pay for housing, and other living expenses. The court will also consider factors such as the minor’s age, maturity, and ability to make independent decisions.

If the court grants the petition for emancipation, the emancipated minor will no longer be under the control or supervision of their parents or legal guardians. This means that child support payments will end, and the minor will become responsible for their own financial support.


Child support is an important responsibility for parents in Delaware, and timely and consistent payments are crucial to the well-being of children. Parents have several options for making child support payments, and the DCSS is available to provide assistance and support when needed.

It is important to understand the laws and guidelines related to child support, including the rules surrounding emancipation and the conditions under which child support payments may be reduced or waived. By working together, parents can ensure that their children have the support they need to thrive.

In Delaware, child support calculation is determined by the Melson formula, taking into consideration the income and expenses of both parents. Various factors, such as support for other children and private school expenses, are also considered.

Shared equal placement adjustment is applied when parents have an equal amount of parenting time, impacting child support payments and shared incidental expenses. Noncompliance with child support orders can result in serious consequences, including legal actions and federal charges.

Parents have multiple payment options, and assistance is available in cases of pandemic-related financial difficulties. Child support payments typically end at age 18 or high school graduation, though exceptions apply for disabled children and emancipation.

Emancipation of a minor involves demonstrating independence and can result in the termination of child support payments. Ensuring timely and consistent child support payments is essential for the well-being of children and their growth.

It is crucial for parents to familiarize themselves with the regulations and options available to fulfill their obligations and support their child’s future.

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